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Dr Chris Steadman is an NHS and Private Consultant Cardiologist working in Poole and Bournemouth, Dorset, England.

Cardiac CT (CT coronary angiogram)

Cardiac Computed Tomography (CT) uses X-rays which are then processed by a computer to produce two and three dimensional images of the heart and coronary arteries.

Dr Steadman can perform cardiac CT for private patients at the Bournemouth Nuffield Hospital using their state of the art Toshiba Aquilion ONE scanner, a 640 slice scanner capable of imaging the heart in a single scanner rotation with significantly reduced radiation dose.

CT scanning can be used to image the heart and assess the calcium in a patients coronary arteries, giving a Coronary Calcium Score, which correlates to a patients risk of significant coronary artery disease.

A more detailed study can also be performed, a CT Coronary Angiogram (CTCA), which uses an injection of dye (radio-opaque contrast) to visualise the coronary arteries. The heart rate needs to be slowed to obtain good images and therefore beta-blockers are given (via the mouth or into a vein) to achieve this. As this test uses X-rays it does involve exposure to radiation.

It has benefits and limitations when compared to a coronary angiogram, the primary benefit being it is non-invasive. Limitations include difficulties in accurately assessing narrowing in the arteries when there is a lot of calcium present.